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How Inclusion Impacted Me

Have you ever asked yourself what makes you grow? What has impacted your life for the better? These questions do not have an easy answer, they take a lot of discernment and thinking.

Group of students smiling Connections and Lunch Partners (such as my group above) taught me that everyone is different--no two people are the same.

For me, being involved in Connections and having a family member with a disability has taught me so much about life. Connections is an inclusive program that focuses on making inclusion happen within the school setting. At South Christian, Connections involved several fun events for people with and without disabilities to interact and have fun. It also involves Lunch Partners, where a student with a disability is paired with a group of students every day for lunch. Connections and Lunch Partners have taught me that everyone is different—no two people are the same. Inclusion gives me a different perspective on life: I’ve realized that no one is perfect—everyone has their own unique abilities.
Inclusion to me is not just about physically including everybody. It’s about allowing everyone to share and use their talents and abilities to make them feel a sense of worth.

Helping with the inclusion program at South Christian, I was able to see all different talents and abilities come to life.

Students being goofy I enjoyed being silly with my Lunch Partners!

The turning point for me, where inclusion and persons with disabilities had a huge impact on my life, was my senior year of high school at South Christian. I had a first hour study hall, and knew that I wasn’t going to use it to do homework, so I decided to peer tutor. Every morning I would go to room 10 and help peer tutor a Bible class. This Bible class was specifically for students with disabilities. I would help each of the students with their homework, as well as help teach the lessons. I loved every minute of it! The students were so happy to see me, and always knew how to put a smile on my face and make me laugh. The endless hugs, laughter, smiles, and conversations are what had a great impact on my life. The students brought so much joy into my life, and taught me how to view the world differently. They helped me see that everyone is unique; when we all come together, we can create an environment that allows each person to be themselves, embracing each person’s gifts and needs.

In Romans 12:6a, it tells us that everyone has received different gifts and that we are to use these gifts to do things well.
“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” - Romans 12:6a

God has given each one of us different gifts to use. Whether your gift is to make someone smile, then make someone smile today. If your gift is to teach, then teach well. If your gift is to love, love well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. Whatever your gift may be, use it to the best of your ability for the glory of God. When we use our gifts that God has given us, that is when inclusive communities come to life.

Passionate about inclusive education? Make a contribution to All Belong to help us create inclusive communities for persons of all abilities.

Ashtyn GrevenstukAshtyn Grevenstuk is a student at Grand Valley State University and serves as the marketing and communications intern at All Belong.